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Posted by on Jul 19, 2013 in company culture, Culture, Engagement, Featured | 3 comments

Engagement Encouraged at All Levels Ensures a Thriving Company

Levels

I’m all for making 21st century business progressive, innovative and a significant step from the draconian approach that has plagued the world for the past hundred years or so. This evolution needs to be thorough, but it still has to remain practical.

No matter how flat your organization is there will always be a vertical component. Front-line employees don’t have the same functional responsibilities as managers, who in turn don’t have the same functional responsibilities as executives. This is true in every organization, and it gives healthy boundaries as well as manages expectations.

These three groups – Executives, Managers, Individuals – have very different functional responsibilities and engagement fits very nicely into them. Just like you wouldn’t expect an individual to develop a 5-year strategy plan for the organization instead of an executive, there are aspects to engagement that should be assigned to the proper functional group.

If each of these groups assumes 3 areas of responsibility each to facilitate engagement, an organization will thrive.

Executives

This group sets the tone of the organization. Of course everyone is responsible for his or her own engagement to a marked degree, but the executive group must facilitate that process while fulfilling their functional responsibilities.

  • Trust – It moves both ways. Executives must trust others as well as prove themselves trustworthy. This is true for everyone, but no other group wields as much influence as the executive team.
  • Communication – The moment your organization views you in an ivory tower, your engagement will suffer. Create and consistently use as many communication channels as possible. When you feel you’re over communicating, you’re getting close to being heard.
  • Culture – You can’t create culture, you can merely facilitate it through the context your leadership creates. You can’t just talk about your culture, your actions must provide stories that reinforce the culture you want and need to be a successful organization. Pay close attention to the emotions your culture elicits – it will determine the quality of your engagement.

Managers

Managers flit between the Executives and the Individuals and play a key role in perpetuating the success of the organization. They are in a unique position to be both accountable to the Executives as well as the Individuals. 21st century management demands social skills.

  • Coaching – Long gone are the days where managers simply bark out orders. There is an ever-growing need to meet the needs of the organization by developing the Individual through questions and guidance. Learning how to help people discover ways to meet organizational goals through the pursuit of meeting their own goals is a crucial skill for this group.
  • Relationships – When was the last time you heard the word “fraternization”? Relationships are what make things function. Navigating at arm’s length just doesn’t produce the necessary results. Human beings are social creatures and providing an outlet in your organization for this component of the human condition makes for great engagement.
  • Dialogue – It’s pretty tough to have a healthy relationship without good communication. Dialogue is a key element to communication. Notice it is dialogue and not monologue. Rank, title or position is not an indicator of the quality of your solutions/ideas.

Individuals

This group determines whether an organization is successful. Strategies are worthless unless there are people making them work. Targets and goals are abstract wishes without individuals taking the effort to reach them.

  • Ownership – I hesitated in using that word because it has been so overused. I’m not talking about the over-zealous buzz word “buy-in” kind of ownership. True ownership in that the individual gets what needs to be done, recognizes how their role has meaning and purpose and chooses to be responsible for that. That is engagement in its purest form.
  • Clarity – It’s pretty tough to engage in anything if you’re not entirely certain of what it is. That is why the Executives need to communicate and the Managers need to be proficient in dialogue.
  • Action – Discussion is great, but at some point you have to do something. Just like it is easier to steer a moving car, it is easier to engage in something if you’re at least putting some effort into it and taking action.

 

 

 

Art by: lori404

William Powell

William is the Executive Director of The Leadership Advisor, an OD consulting company that works that globally with organizations in the areas of leadership, culture and employee engagement. His message "Human Flourishing is Profitable" has helped earn him the distinction of being an ambassador for the European Workplace Innovation Network (EUWIN), which is supported by the European Commission. William is a playful, witty and painfully honest speaker with a no non-sense approach. He is also the author of Personal Ecology: Self Management and the Art of Cultivating Healthy Relationships.

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  • http://www.thecaremovement.com Al Smith

    Wow. Absolutely one of the best I have seen. Great job William. Separating the three groups and recognizing the differences is crucial to employee engagement.

    So many excellent points and CARE, but these are my 3 favorite takeaways;

    “Executives must trust others as well as prove themselves trustworthy”

    “When you feel you’re over communicating, you’re getting close to being heard”

    “Notice ….. it is dialogue and not monologue”
    William, please keep up the great work, my friend. Ted & Shawn, You Rock !!!!
    Al

    • William Powell

      Thanks for the feedback Al, and I’m glad this post resonated with you. This is such an important issue for companies to really take things to a more strategic level in how they function internally.

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    Great thinking, thanks. I’d add that you can take the three areas and say that everyone can be measured on all of them. Just imagine an organization based where everyone’s performance measures are based on these criteria.

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